“Success Beyond 18” was kicked off last week on Capitol Hill.
The national campaign aims to create a better path for young people transitioning from foster care to adulthood.
The Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative, a national partner of Forsyth County’s Youth in Transition and the leader of Success Beyond 18, joined Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, the chair of the National Governors Association, legislators, child welfare experts and young people in foster care from around the country to kick off the campaign.
Local child advocates say the campaign is an important step in helping to create better outcomes for those who age out of the foster care system.
“The goal of our work at Youth in Transition is to ensure that every young person leaves foster care with the skills, resources and the opportunities they need to help them succeed in work, school, and life,” said Alex Hudson, lead coordinator of Youth in Transition, which works to give foster children the skills they need to transition into successful adults. “We’re excited to be part of this important campaign to help North Carolina make this goal a reality.”
Approximately 26,000 individuals “age out” of the foster care system each year. In North Carolina, approximately 500 and in Forsyth County, 17 age out each year. In general, these young people are not prepared to live on their own, yet that is what they are asked to do.
Joe Raymond, director of Forsyth County Department of Social Services, said, “I’m excited about Success Beyond 18, which will ensure that Youth in Transition’s good work continues and that progress continues to build in North Carolina to improve the odds for young people transitioning from foster care to adult life.”
Hudson and Raymond met with staffers of Sens. Richard Burr and Kay Hagan and U.S. Rep. Foxx to update them on Youth in Transition’s work to advance opportunities for older youth in foster care.
At the launch, the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative released a report detailing the potential cost savings to taxpayers for acting now to increase support for young people transitioning from foster care to adulthood.
The data indicate that for every young person who ages out of foster care, the social costs incurred as a result (through lost wages, public assistance and jail time) equal $300,000 over that young person’s lifetime – or $7.8 billion in total costs to the U.S. every year. In North Carolina, the potential financial impact would be $150,000,000.